Moving aggressively to accelerate the transition to digital cinema, Christie/AIX, a unit of Access Integrated Technologies ("AccessIT"), today announced an agreement with Sony Pictures Entertainment whereby Sony Pictures will supply its upcoming films in DCI-compliant format to the 4,000 digital projection systems Christie/AIX intends to install in movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada over the next two years.
"We look forward to supporting Christie/AIX's Digital Cinema rollout, which combines innovative technologies with a true understanding of the specific business needs of each distributor and exhibitor," said Jeff Blake, Vice Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Chairman of Worldwide Marketing and Distribution for Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group. "Digital Cinema will enable us to better deliver our creative content to audiences immersing them in a visually compelling form for a unique entertainment experience."
Jack Kline, President and COO, Christie, noted: "Sony Pictures has consistently delivered exciting, first class entertainment to audiences around the world. Their commitment is a great endorsement of the strength and viability of the Christie/AIX rollout strategy. Our proven plan is helping Hollywood and the exhibition communities make the transition to Digital Cinema seamless, while bringing renewed excitement to the movie going experience."
Commenting on the agreement, Bud Mayo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AccessIT, said: "We are pleased that Sony Pictures has joined our rapidly growing list of studio partners. Christie/AIX is the first to implement a Digital Cinema rollout as we proceed with the first 150 screens of our planned installations. The signings of additional studios means more content for the increasing number of exhibitors who have indicated they wish to participate in our plan as well as increased cash flows for Christie/AIX."
The Agreement with Sony Pictures is in addition to recent agreements signed with Disney, Twentieth Century Fox and Universal, which has prompted Christie/AIX to begin the initial deployment of Digital Cinema systems in theatres in Detroit, Michigan owned by Emagine Entertainment, Inc. and at multiple locations in San Diego and Riverside County (CA) multiplexes owned by Ultrastar Theaters, Inc. A total of 150 Digital Cinema systems are expected to be operational at these circuits by December 31, 2005.
Chuck Goldwater, President and Chief Operating Officer of Christie/AIX, added: "Sony has long been a pioneer in digital entertainment both technologically and in distribution. With its support, exhibitors will now gain access to a major new source of content for use on the growing number of digitally equipped screens. Based upon our late-stage negotiations and discussions with additional studios, a growing number of independent distributors plus both large and small exhibitors, we believe that Digital Cinema has the potential to reach all the screens in the U.S. and Canada within a decade."